Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Corsets for Nerds

Well, I told you I was going to do it: I wore a corset to work. And nobody even noticed. Actually I did wear it with the jacket on all day, which at least partially explains the lack of comment or inquiry, but I still maintain that nothing I wear fazes my coworkers anymore.

I was a bit concerned with how comfortable it would be to wear a corset for a full day at work, but I was pleasantly surprised. By the end of the day I was definitely ready to take it off, but on the whole it really wasn't any less comfortable than any other form-fitting outfit I've worn. I've included some photos of what the outfit looked like without the jacket; I actually liked it a lot better that way, but felt it was a little much to show the entire corset at work. However, I would certainly wear it this way to a non-work event. The mixture of black and brown makes this corset very versatile, and because it's not a shiny silk fabric, I can easily dress it down. From a purely utilitarian perspective, the brass D-rings were a perfect attachment point for my security access badge. Perhaps the company who made it should be called Corsets for Nerds.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are thinking, "I could never wear a corset at all, let alone at work all day." But I feel like I need to sing their praises a little, because just look at what this one did for my figure! A tiny waist, a flat stomach, and an accentuated bust and hips, all accomplished with one little garment! And honestly, you really do get used to it once you've had it on for awhile. I've also heard tell that the more you wear a corset the more natural it feels, which is a theory I will certainly test myself, now that I've gotten over the hurdle of wearing one out for a day. There are plenty of online resources for how to shop for and wear a corset, but I feel like I should share my own advice as well.

Audi's Tips for Successful Corset-Wearing:

Invest in a good corset. Those cheap-o ones that don't have metal stays and busks really aren't worth it. They double over when you bend at the waist and don't accomplish anything other than making you uncomfortable. A good corset requires a lot of time and materials to produce, and is worth the money. Expect to pay at least $200 for even the most basic model.

Don't half-ass it; lace that sucker up as tight as it goes. Corsets are designed to hold the body in place via their metal stays, so the bigger the gap you leave in the laces, the more you'll spread those back stays apart and prevent the corset from doing its job. This can actually lead to pain, so make sure you've laced the corset properly.

Your corset gently requests that you maintain good posture and keep your midsection tight; don't make it have to get nasty. In other words, don't fight against the corset, but rather adjust yourself into the position it's trying to get you to adopt. A straight back and sucked in stomach will be the most comfortable position, so try to maintain that. You can actually relax into the corset and let it guide the way you sit and stand, but make sure you don't relax so much that you counteract what it's designed to do.

Breathe "upwards." That's the only way I can describe it. With a corset on you have no stretch around your chest; this is particularly true of the over-bust styles. So rather than swelling your chest and abdomen when you breathe in and out, you need to lift your ribcage and bust. Try doing this without a corset on, and you'll find that right away your posture improves and your stomach stays nice and tight. Think about having a corset on as a constant reminder, and you can imagine the benefit that comes from wearing one. Good posture looks great anyway, but good posture combined with a tiny waist and flat stomach looks even better.

So what about all of you? Do you own a corset? Would you ever consider wearing one?

Jacket: Victoria M. Ortiz
Necklace: Rapsodia
Top: Noa Noa
Corset: Xcentricities
Skirt: All Saints
Shoes: John Fluevog


A-C said...

This outfit looks amazing! I want to raid your closet and steal it :-p
But seriously, I love how its a bit edgy but still very sophisticated.


Wasted Wishes said...

That outfit is fantastic! It even has that steampunk element that you do so well. I would wear a corset as often as I could! Just searching for that perfect one. Great job on this one!

b. said...

I'm an actor/director and many years ago I did a show where I spent the better part of two months in a heavily-boned corset, as did most of the women in the cast. What I learned is that your comfort level (or not) in a corset has a lot to do with your body type.

I am an apple shape, and found my corset torturous. At the time I was quite slender overall, but the corset squeezed the biggest part of my body and hurt horribly. I also have a full bust, and when in the corset I could bow my head and my chin would hit my boobs. YUCK.

However, several of my castmates with different body shapes didn't have the same issues. Many of them, like you, found them to be a heavier-duty version of a modern girdle or spanx.

Since our play was done in Victorian-era costume, we were also wearing farthingales (hoop skirts), bustles, heels, bum rolls, and other fun period clothes. I remember telling a friend that I totally understood feminism after wearing all that stuff--seven weeks stuck in that "cage" and I was a bonafide bra-burner. :-)

Marie said...

That is a gorgeous waist flattering thing to wear for sure, love it with the little jacket and the contrast of textures.
Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

WendyB said...

Oh, you naughty girl!

I love corsets...they make me sit up straight.

jennine said...

i love how you sneaked wearing a corset on the outside to work! amazing! i've never owned a proper corset, but i'm curious...

Penny said...

That is one beautiful corset and I just love how you paired up with the skirt, the shoes, and top. I used to wear corsets all the time in my goth days and sometimes, I would mistakenly tie those suckers way too tight...so tight that sometimes I really understood why women back in those days were always fainting...lol

poet said...

Amazing outfit! And since you asked, I get to babble away about myself, too: Although I have never belonged to any of the fashion subgroups that tend to wear corsets, I actually made two corsets in my lifetime - one to keep up my strapless prom dress, one for renaissance fair dress-up purposes. But neither of them is a perfect fit or fulfills all the shaping purposes a corset should fulfill. So if I should ever have $200 to spare... :)


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic look and what a waist! You look really lovely both with and without the jacket.

I used to have a black corset, that my parents gave me when I was in my "corset-phase". Me and a friend were obsessed with corsets for a while and she even tried making one herself. But my corset disappeared during a theather production about six years ago. I still miss it sometimes (even though I rarely wear black anymore).

Corsets are very cool indeed.

Lisa said...

Gorgeous outfit!! I've been recently coveting a corset... They're too expensive though -- but that's probably because I'm being picky. I was *just* looking through the Dark Garden website trying to figure out if I could legitimize buying a corset that I wouldn't wear but maybe once every few years. Or around the house. (since clubbing or dress up in that way isn't really in my regular lifestyle)

Anyway. Well done :)

And thanks for this blog!

Aradia said...

I love the outfit and that corset is gorgeous. It looks more like a very fancy wide belt (obi, may be!) than a corset! If you have taken your jacket off no one would have made it for something that is basically underwear.
I have been looking for a nice corset/bustier for a couple of years now. Something I can wear as a top without the self consciousness of all the lacing in the back. Haven’t found it yet!

Lenelein said...

Love the corset and I agree: It's not as uncomfortable as many people think. Of course when you take it off you take a deep breath, but I can work, sit and dance in mine all day! You have to keep in mind the correct fit though. I think waist cinchers like yours are best because they don't restrict the bust and leave some room for breathing...

Liz said...

I'm an engineer who works in educational video gaming, and I've been watching your blog for a while now, because there is a distinct lack of stylish nerds, imo. But I saw this post and had to comment because... I've also worn a corset to work!


Granted, it was during a week that I was showing off costumes before a convention (my coworkers see me sewing all the time, so they ask to see the finished product). And my corset was custom made by a friend (hence the not complete lacing, as she told me to go easy on the spiral steel ribbing for the first wear). But still! Fun times!

Megan said...

Just curious. Where do you get the Noa Noa clothes? Locally in SF?

Chan @ Chanmeleon said...

Wow, you look really great. I would think that a corset would make an outfit look really formal and costumey, but you look totally modern!

When you mentioned that at the end of the day, you were ready to take the corset off, I thought of a reader question: what do you wear at home? I know when I get home, if I'm wearing jeans, I switch them for leggings.

Anonymous said...

I have worn both Elizabethan and Victorian corsets for both performance and "day job" work. A properly fitted corset should not be uncomfortable.

Yes, there are things you can't do in one, but there are also things you can't do in a short miniskirt or a strapless dress as well - at least with the corset you CAN'T flash anyone by mistake!

For those with hourglass-y figures (Even if there is more sand in the bottom) and/or large boobage, they can be more comfortable than a modern bra. Rather than supporting from above like a modern bra )which can sag and pinch) it supports from below.

Ms. Falcon said...

gorgeous outfit! i love corsets so much!


Marley said...

I am a fan of all things steampunk, and I'm seriously loving this entire outfit.

kristophine said...

I love corsets--I've made a few of my own, although that was before my body settled into its grown-up shape, and I can only fit one or two of them now. (My sister, who also makes them, recommends steel hacksaw blades for boning: nice and springy, the right width, and also cheap.)

I wore them a LOT as a teenager at SCA events, and once or twice to school. (I don't know if the odd looks I got were for the corset or the pleather pants I wore them with.) They definitely get more comfortable as you get used to them. I can wear them now for hours at a stretch without getting uncomfortable.

The key is definitely in good construction--that's what's so nice about making your own. It comes out perfectly tailored to your body, instead of to some imaginary "average woman" body. It may seem like the lacing would let you adjust for that, but lacing has a tendency to settle in a particular way that may not stay narrow where you'd like it and wide where you'd like it. And they're actually not all that hard, courtesy of the Elizabethan Corset Pattern Generator (I think that website is still in operation--could probably Google it).

If you can sew an apron, you can sew a corset. I know because that was where I was at after 7th grade Home Ec, when I made my first one. The most dangerous part was setting the grommets, which takes a $20 tool from JoAnn Fabric. I was careless with the scissors when I was making a hole for a grommet once and cut my hand open nearly to the bone. But really, once you have the pattern pieces cut out, lots of straight lines, lots of hemming, and boom! corset. Buying a custom-made corset is the next best thing, in my opinion, if you don't enjoy sewing at all.

Sheila said...

What an amazingly stunning outfit! Audi, I think this is one of my favourite looks you have ever done!

I totally love your gumption in wearing this to work. I don't think I could get away with it at mine (I do push the envelope a lot as it is), but I'd wear a corset the way you have for a special occasion.

Audi said...

So many great comments here! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who has braved a corset.

b: Yes, I can see how having an apple shape would make an off-the-rack corset difficult -- a custom-fitted one would probably work, though.

Meegiemoo: All my Noa Noa clothes have come from their stores in either Denmark or France, but I do know of one shop in Portland that carries a limited amount of Noa Noa clothes, called Narcisse:

Suz: If I'm just hanging around the house then I'm usually in something comfy like yoga pants and a tank -- I only get fancied up if I'm going outside.

kristophine: I'd love to be able to make my own corset, but my sewing skills are pretty rudimentary right now. Someday...

mel said...

oh wow that looks really great!

I make and sell corsets online.I should make a black one like that.


Anonymous said...

You look amazing in this corset!

They are so formal, dressy and structured, and provide flattering definition to the figure.

I like that you kept the jacket on all day. First because it seems to me the laces should be mysterious, private and not for public viewing. And second because it's part of your outfit, like a suit jacket, not like an overcoat related to the weather. You look more put together with it on.

xALTER--EGO said...

Wow-- this is my first visit to your blog (found via google search, actually. XP That's why my comment is months behind everyone else's) but you honestly remind me of what I may be like down the road, after I graduate and move out into the working world. What can you do when you're in love with both science and fashion? Clearly, you are a fantastic role model for this concern.

I've always loved corsets. They're gorgeous, and I find them comfortable. And if you wear it under your clothes, it gives you off-the-meter confidence. And they can add that certain oomph to an outfit. I love the outfit you pulled together-- with the corset's colours and D-rings, as well as the boots that look like Victorian spats, it screams steampunk to me :) You look amazing.
I'm looking to start making my own corsets, just because some people charge so much that it costs an arm and a leg (sometimes two) to get a decent, well-fitting, steel-boned corset. Or even an ill-fitting, plastic-boned one (trust me... worst way to spend $300. Ever.)
And at least if I make my own, I won't have to pay extra to have it long-line so it fits where it's supposed to on my torso. That's another thing I suggest to people-- don't buy off the rack or pret-a-porter if you're not an average shape. Custom-made will fit your unique shape much better, and it will be much more comfortable because of it.

Fruniture Stores Glendale said...

Very retro! Love the angles in the 3 pieces, v-neck, the v on the corset and the skirt.

SEO Los Angeles said...

I love the colors in this outfit.